Last week, President Obama addressed an audience of religious leaders, policymakers, researchers and community organizers when he spoke as a panelist at the Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit on Overcoming Poverty.
The event was held in Georgetown, one of the wealthiest communities in America.
I am as pleased as the next person to see our President's concern for poverty extend beyond preaching personal responsibility to African Americans. It was also good to know that the President, E.J. Dionne, Jr. (panel moderator), and panelists Robert Putnam (Harvard professor) and Arthur Brooks (president of the American Enterprise Institute) all agreed that government has a role to play in reducing poverty. But which strategies should be employed and how much money should be allocated to this issue? Well, there's the rub.
I believe poverty, like a whole host of other intractable social ills, is really a spiritual problem. Rarely, however, are social issues discussed in a spiritual context, but I believe this is the proper and essential framework.
Spiritual awareness is a state of being. It is not a religion.
Spiritual awareness is a state of consciousness wherein the connection to the Source of all life and all of creation is acknowledged and embraced. This awareness informs thought and action. This kind of awareness eschews negative and stigmatizing labels, self-serving agendas and self-righteousness.
Jim Wallis, the President's spiritual advisor, wrote in his book, Faith Works:
"I believe the making of the modern Christian, Jew or Muslim will be through action. When put into action, faith has the capacity to bring people together, to motivate, and to inspire, even across former dividing lines."